Repost: Blue Ridge Airport

We lucked out this past weekend. I had planned a flyout to Blue Ridge Airport and the weather actually was perfect! Unfortunately the holiday weekend meant there were fewer pilots interested in the flight. But Gert and I had the aircraft reserved all day long and there were opportunities to fly, grab a vegeburger, collect stamps and maybe shoot approaches!


We set off as usual a little later than planned. I don’t remember a time I left ahead of schedule. This time, I had somehow unknowingly filed FLUKY -> HEF as opposed to HEF->FLUKY. And living inside the SFRA meant that ATC  couldn’t let us depart without a valid flight plan in place or refile the flight plan for us. This meant we had to shut off the engine, call in a new flight plan and wait the necessary few minutes for the flight plan to arrive at the tower.

Continue to read here.

Fresh on Fridays: More Falwell

Courtesy Gert

Name the Airport Game #15: Where am I?



Answer: Charolettsville, VA (KCHO)

Best of 2016

Flying season in 2016 didn’t get started till almost March for me. Although I love to fly on January 1st, this was one of the years when I couldn’t. My first fun flyout of the year was a $500 lunch with the Flyout group (FOG) at Williamsburg, VA.

I have been yearning to fly in a foreign country. I finally checked off one item on my bucket list when I flew in Sydney, Australia in April.


In May, the FOG again made a successful flight to Chester County for lunch. We had a huge turnout on an incredibly fine late Spring day. And in June and July, we flew to collect stamps for the VA Ambassador program: 11 more!


After years of trying, I finally made it to Niagara Falls! Another bucket list item: Check!


Weather hasn’t been all that cooperative this fall, but we did fly down to Tangier in October for lunch and stamps. What a beautiful fall day!


The year is almost wrapping up, and although I didn’t fly to the Bahamas or Oshkosh, it has definitely been a fun year!

Have a Very Happy New Year!

Another Four Stamps

Monday Morning Inspiration

My flying this year has been limited to a stray, once a month flying. But it has been incredibly rewarding, and more inspirational, than the previous year.

As it happens, it’s almost finals week!


Although I have flown to Tangier Island at least a couple of times before (See Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Tangier Again), each time I missed getting my VA  stamp. Although Gert and I had comfortably made it to Niagara Falls in August, I still wanted to plan a fall flyout to Tangier, since I obviously have missed getting my stamps the previous times!

It was one of those rare days when we departed right on cue and arrived 30 minutes earlier than planned since Pax River was not too busy to let us cut across their airspace for a direct flight into TGI.


Lorraine’s was the only restaurant open in October which was great since that is the restaurant I had selected for lunch. After getting our VA Ambassador stamp,  we headed into town for lunch,  just ahead of a group of 10-15 people arriving from Hampton Roads!


Lunch and a pleasant walk back to the aircraft, we headed out for three more stamps: Hummell, West Point and Tappahannock. Three new airports to fly into, especially Hummel, a good short field practice. With four more stamps, we headed back home right on schedule. It was one of those rare, but incredibly beautiful and fun fall days of flying,  enjoying nature and just the joy of flying for flying’s sake.


What an inspiring and incredible day!

Tangier Landing

Never get tired heading out to Tangier… finally got that coveted stamp!

Video courtesy Gert

Name the Airport Game #12: Where am I?

Drag Racing in a VA Airport?


Smith Mountain Lake

Fresh on Fridays

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Uphill or downhill?

O’ Falwell!

“You have to have full throttle as you go up the hill,” said Susan.

“Can a C172 handle it?” I asked, wondering at the sanity of it all.

“Of course, ” responded Dave.

“You depart downhill. You actually can’t see the runway over the edge, but it is there. AFD says 7% grade but I think it varies.” said Susan.

“Even if you land downhill, if you  can’t stop before the end of the runway, just add power and you will be off the ground. You really can take off and land in 200 ft.” Dave added.


It seemed incredible. When I had decided we would collect stamps near Blue Ridge Airport, I identified 4 other airports that were within reach and along our path home. I knew the runways were narrow and small, but I didn’t think beyond that.

It seems we had caught ourselves an adventure. And adventure it was.

 It is misleading viewing the runway from the air. There is a slight “S” curve feel to the runway, and the slope is not evident until one descends low, a few hundred feet from the ground. Initially we planned to land 10, but as we circled the airport Gert decided he would prefer 28. Which was good, since the AFD actually recommends landing runway 28 and taking off runway 10.

As we trailed past the midway mark, I wondered whoa! Normally right now, I will be planning a go around. But I needn’t have worried. Touching down, puffing slowly at the 172 pace we came  to a halt within seconds. Not that we could determine how much runway was left.

And  did I mention downhill?  Well hang on to your brakes as you taxi downhill to the transient parking area.

And about that take-off? It’s a breeze. You might not see the runway as it abruptly drops downhill, but with full power you are off the ground in a matter of seconds!

 I definitely need to go back, just so I can do this take-off and landing again 🙂

Enjoy a recording of our landing and departure from Falwell.

BTW, we did snag a stamp while we were there.


Falwell Airport


Video courtesy Gert.

Four More Stamps

Lately the weather has not been cooperative, at least not on weekends.

Weeks ahead, I had reserved an aircraft, and planned the flight to Hampton Roads. We had a good group of 4-5 aircraft with 10-12 people all set to go. Then the weather gods intervened with: “Thou shall not fly!”

The forecast was awful, more severe than what actually transpired on the day. But the damage was done.

As an after thought, I had reserved an aircraft for the following weekend as a back up plan. My weekends are typically consumed with school work. But,  I wanted to squeeze in a flight if I could, if not anything to stay current.  The forecast was looking good. I didn’t want to say it out aloud, lest I jinx myself.

Gert and I set off early, an hour later than planned but early to beat the heat. The highs on Saturday were expected to be in mid 90’s. Because of the intense heat, there was a possibility of severe thunderstorms in the afternoon. As we departed, we could sense a change in winds.

Busy Day? (photo courtesy Gert)

First stop: Winchester. Young eagles were in full force. There were several aircraft in the pattern, arriving or taxing for departure. Rather than a straight in which is what we had planned, we setup for a 45 entry and attempted to follow another aircraft, which unfortunately had to go around since we were close behind and another was attempting to takeoff.

Once we landed, efficient ground personnel directed us to the terminal building, where we hopped out and collected our first stamp of the day. It was going to be a busy and long day for EAA, with 120 eager kids and only 8 aircraft available to offer rides.


Next stop: Front Royal. If I thought my landing at OKV was decent, this one barely made the cut. As Gert put, “good recovery”. Winds in the Shenandoah Valley were getting a little squirrely. Another stamp and we continued on, waiting for glider departures.


Third stop: Luray. I wont even talk about this landing. You know what people say: from good to bad to worse 🙂

Luray is a great place to fly to to visit the famous Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley. While you can certainly drive there, which I have done in the past, it is a lot more fun to fly in. Just be aware of the squirrely winds. As the airport manager waiting for us told us: “Hey you lived to tell the story!” He is also happy to drop off people at the Caverns and pick them up for the return back to the airport. The caves are excellent and there is a cafe there for the $100 hamburger.

Being on a tight schedule, Gert and I hoped back on for the short trip to New Market and Gert demonstrated his skills (especially from flying in crosswinds in Hawaii) by smoothly touching down on an unkempt asphalt runway with weeds and cracks.

Although we had hoped to cover Bridgewater airport, we headed home since we were out of time on the aircraft rental. But before we could head back, we had to await the descent of the seven parachutes as they descended over the airport!


After  a hiatus of more than year, progress at last on my Virginia Ambassador stamps.

Total Tally so far: 24 stamps + 4 museums. 1/3 of the way there!


Note 1: None of these airports have restaurants, but some have courtesy cars such as Luray, and Winchester.
Note 2: Some photos courtesy Gert.